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Using GPS-based navigation apps has become second nature to many drivers. But what if you’re a first responder and you need to get to an emergency scene the fastest way possible, and possibly in an oversize vehicle?

For first responders, there can be drawbacks to using the same apps and following the same routes as everyone else. The apps may not take into account specific factors that can delay response time, like weather events, traffic accidents, or the size and weight of their vehicles. They also do not take into account local roadway or speed limit rules for emergency vehicles.

A new solution is being developed by the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and partner Azimuth1. The QuickRoute app takes into account the type of vehicle being driven — whether a fire truck, or ambulances, police cruisers, incident command units, even standard sedans — as well agency roadway protocols, specs like turn radius or bridge and tunnel clearance, and their unique ability to use lights and sirens to clear paths and avoid signals.


Other data sources, including weather patterns, traffic and transit schedules, and local jurisdiction rules (i.e., right-of-way, private access roads, ability to exceed posted speed limits, highway exiting) are also factored in, giving responders the quickest and safest route to the scene, according to DHS website.

“If you have firefighters who have been called to an emergency, and they’re driving, say, a hook and ladder truck — perhaps they can’t traverse a narrow lane,” S&T program manager Kimberli Jones-Holt said. “QuickRoute will provide an alternate route to be able to get them to that emergency much more quickly than a traditional commercial application would.”

The app was tested in April and was evaluated on how it worked in several response scenarios, such as medical emergencies and roadway challenges placed along the routes.

QuickRoute and a desktop version will be available for purchase in 2020, according to homelandprepnews.com.